Monday, July 06, 2009

horsekeeping update

I missed doing my trim notes post last week, and since there are a few new things going on in my equine routine I'm going to combine it all here. I've found that blogging about these things not only gives me the chance to think it all through as I type, but I can easily look back and track my own notes/thinking. I keep notes on my barn calendar too but they are short and sweet, and on the blog I tend to get more long-winded!

So, trim notes:

Keil Bay looked good, as did the pony. Salina is starting to shed some sole, Rafer Johnson looked good, and Redford had a tiny bit of thrush in his hinds. Cody was the problem child this time around - he was a bit tender and had some redness, which B. felt might be due to sugars in grass.

Cody has never had an issue with this, but given the absence of rain for the previous two weeks, the grass was stressed, and when that happens, the sugars rise. And we had been lax about closing the gates during "off-pasture" hours - so in effect he was getting more of a highly-stressed forage. This coincided with the flu bug and no riding. Which probably resulted in the tenderness.

We decided to take the pony and Cody both off the pasture for the rest of last week. They spent the nights in the dirt paddock and the arena, where there is a little bit of nibbling to be done, but not much, with hay nets hung in several places so they could nibble, walk, eat some hay, walk, etc.

The pony was not happy with this arrangement but he lost a little weight and Cody is much better. Now that it's rained some, daughter has resumed riding, and he's not sore, things should be back to normal, but we're keeping an eye on him. A grazing muzzle is a possibility if we need to plug that in.

Now that everyone is doing pretty well hoof-wise, I've decided to add in a new routine that I hope will help us stay on this track. A number of hoof gurus, including our trimmer, have said that thoroughly cleaning the hooves once a week can be a simple but effective way to maintain hoof health. So I went to the Dollar Store last week and bought the very simple supplies: a bottle of plain blue Dawn dishwashing liquid (I'm not altogether thrilled about that, but am trying to stay economical and simple - will tweak this later if needed), a nice scrub brush - fits my hand, good size for use on hooves, etc., and a big tube of Desitin for babies' butts.

The recommended routine is to thoroughly pick the hooves, then use the scrub brush and a bit of Dawn liquid to scrub the bottom of the hoof completely. Rinse with clean water, check for anything that still needs to be picked out, and then dry with a clean cloth. Apply the Desitin to the frog area as a barrier cream.

An optional step that would come before the Desitin ointment - if there is thrush in any deeper crevices, press cotton balls into the crevices and then apply one or a mixture of a number of essential oils: lavender, tea tree, oregano, etc.

Right now I'm really trying to get the frogs to not only remain healthy but grow, and I'd like to see if this helps.

I've got the hay analyzed and minerals balanced now, and everyone is on what I'm thinking will be their ongoing "base" diets wrt feed. Keil Bay and Salina are on the senior diets, the pony and donkeys are on the balanced cubes, and Cody gets his own mixture. They're all doing well - and while I'm still working on the overall mineral balance and still need to test our pasture and water, we've made progress.

I need to get a fish scale so I can weigh hay - we feed free choice but I'd like to weigh what they are getting so I can see how close they are to my calculations.

Otherwise, I've also just added in glucosamine and chondroitin for Salina and Keil Bay. I did not give them their Adequan injections in May, as I wanted to see what their baseline is on the complete senior diet. Keil is not showing any change (i.e. no visible stiffness) and Salina is seeming generally stiffer with no joint supplementation, which makes sense, given her age and knees.

Based on my class notes and research studies, I've decided to add in the two joint supplements orally, dosed by weight, and see how much improvement I see by the fall. Interestingly, the purest and least expensive powders are human grade, available in bulk online, and I am supplementing ONLY the two things I want to supplement. I couldn't find any equine version that had the two things I wanted w/o other things added in - and the human grade versions are actually much cheaper!

Once I get a clear idea of what this is doing for my two seniors, I can make my way 'up the ladder' of options as needed to get the best results for each horse.

So far this summer I'm seeing horses that are more resistant to insect bites, more resilient in the heat, improving hooves, shiny soft coats, and overall good health.

I'm also seeing a reduction in the house/stable fly population after two double batches of fly predators in a row, and we have also seen a noticeable decrease in fire ant mounds this year. Don't know if the ongoing application of DE to the mounds is what worked, or if the conditions have changed in general, but it's been a welcome shift from the past two summers.


Grey Horse Matters said...

It seems like you've really thought this out and have a wonderful plan in place. I rely on my daughter J. to do all this, she is a lot like you and researches everything and then puts it into play. Then monitors the results.

I haven't ever tried washing out the hooves weekly, it' s an interesting concept.

I'm thankful we don't have fire ants here, I do remember them in a Yogi Bear campground when the kids were little and J. got very bit up, it's painful. Glad you have them under control.

billie said...

It's a work in progress, but I feel like I'm getting somewhere - slow but steady. :)

I pick J's brain on a regular basis! You're lucky to have her!